Monday, February 4, 2008

Granderson Here To Stay

While most people are talking Super Bowl today, I feel there's nothing left to say that hasn't already been said. The Detroit media has mostly concerned itself with Tom Brady and his Michigan ties. Other than perhaps seeing Amani Toomer do well, there wasn't much for us Detroiters to root for.

There was development that came out of Downtown today that does matter, though. The Tigers locked up centerfielder Curtis Granderson for five more years at about 6 million per. This does a couple of things for the team.

1. We keep Granderson on our team through his prime. By the time the contract is over, he'll be 32 and likely on the downside of his career. While that may seem sudden, keep in mind that he will be 27 next month already. Though he has only played two full major league seasons, he spent four years in college and another four years in the minors.

2. We keep Granderson at a below-market price. As a FA, Granderson would no doubt earn more than 6 million per year. However, by signing him before he hits the open market, we can keep him at a reduced rate. With our rapidly increasing payroll, it pays to be smart about contracts like this. The Yankees had not learned that lesson until recently, forgoing younger players and signing older veterans at double the cost.

3. Granderson can stick around as our bridge to the next great Tigers teams. Let's face it, the Tigers window of opportunity is slim right now. Our best players are old and injury-prone. Gary Sheffield is 39 and coming off a second-half of the season where he hit .172. Magglio Ordonez is 34 and just had his first fully healthy year since 2003. Carlos Guillen is 32 and injuries have diminished his range to the point that he now plays 1b. Finally, Pudge is 36, and while still durable, age has greatly lessened his impact on the offense.

Our minor league system has also been weakened heavily by the past two seasons worth of trades. Players like Humberto Sanchez, Jair Jurrjens, Andrew Miller, Gorkys Hernandez, and Cameron Maybin have all been shipped out in various traders. Because of these losses, and the inevitable declines in our current stars, Granderson will be counted on to be our offensive superstar in 2009 and beyond.

4. This may just be an extension of #3, but Granderson's dependability in the next 5 years will be a a major boost to restocking the rest of the team. Many baseball experts believe great teams are built on pitching and defense (especially D up the middle). We have the young pitchers in Verlander, Bonderman, and Rick Porcello to build on. We have the CF, now we just need to find that young catcher and SS to replace Pudge and Renteria. Those pieces might not be in our upper levels of the minors yet, but the fact that we already have half the puzzle helps a lot.

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